I first heard of Neil through his inclusion on one of Irwin Chusid’s Songs In the Key of Z collections: a home cassette demo of The Future Is Now, which appears on the third volume of the series. More recently I was reminded of his brilliance by fellow incorrect music enthusiast and Sheena’s Jungle Room DJ Miss Mei, who posted his entire 2006 album, also called the Future Is Now, on YouTube after CDBaby decided to cease production of physical discs and make it almost impossible to find Neil’s album.
Which is a huge shame, as it really is a wonderful thing. As Neil himself said at the time of release, ‘I take great pride in presenting my debut album… Having been a music lover nearly all of my life, I consider this album as a coming to fruition of really “finding myself” musically.’
Neil was, he tells us, ‘An avid listener of popular songs on the radio as early as the age of five.’ A few years later, at his mother’s insistence, he ‘Took piano lessons for a couple of years… which came in handy in the future. In high school, I discovered I had a good singing voice. I would sing many of the popular songs of that era to myself, but was too shy to pursue this skill before audiences. Decades later, having overcome my shyness, I started performing in karaoke events in clubs.’ These karaoke spots emboldened him and encouraged him to pursue his dream of releasing his own music.
Neil purchased his own synthesizer, and found himself a studio, Olive Juice, to record his debut full-length album. Eleven of the 12 tracks on The Future Is Now were written by Neil himself: the twelfth, Broken Heart, was composed by his friend Andrew Singer, aka rap artist soce the elemental wizard (all lower case, just like k.d. lang). Many of the tracks on the album originally appeared on a demo cassette, released in 1998 under the name Neil Darins. That cassette also includes several Neil Dick originals that would not be re-recorded for The Future Is Now, including the rather sweet I Really Flipped Over You, and The Edmonton Song.
In the 1950s, Neil was at school with Chuck Negron, a founding member of the band Three Dog Night. The pair reconnected backstage in 2004, and one of the tracks on the album, It’s a Small World tells the story of their friendship.
An active member of New York’s LGBTQ community (he gets a credit on the soundtrack to the 1995 film Wigstock: the Movie), having recently turned 78 (he celebrated his birthday on 21 December), Neil is no longer making music but is still working, currently as part of the staff of the New York Language Center.
Enjoy a couple of tracks from the extraordinary The Future Is Now, Neil’s ode to Chinese cookery I Love That Red Sauce, and the magnificent, uplifting title track The Future Is Now. For more, check out mei Clover's YouTube channel, where you can find the entire album, as well as a couple of tracks from Neil's 1998 demo cassette.
Download Sauce HERE
Download Future HERE